Vince: how to tackle fuel poverty

by Stephen Tall on July 31, 2008

The Lib Dems’ deputy leader and shadow chancellor has written for today’s Independent setting out his measures for tackling fuel poverty. You can read the article in full here, but here’s a snippet to whet your appetites:

The recent announcements by British Gas and the French electricity utility EDF, that they plan to increase gas and electricity prices by a third and a fifth respectively, have major, and worrying, implications for those on the edge of fuel poverty. This comes on top of industry-wide increases at the start of the year. Even in the balmy heat of midsummer, people are understandably worrying about their energy bills.

Average bills now sit well above the psychological barrier of £1000 per year. This in turn raises the question of whether the Government’s target of eradicating fuel poverty by 2016 is any longer credible, or even meaningful. There are currently 2.5 million households so defined. …

The energy companies have so far led something of a charmed life, with a windfall from the ETC and a regulator who is reluctant to enforce the full rigours of competition rules. They would be well advised to be generous to their customers. Otherwise they may find themselves subject to enforced generosity.